Chapter 7, Part B
They entered the house and went up one flight of stairs to the first door on the left, Estrelicas flat, and went inside. She made a beeline for her portfolio of photographs that she kept just under her sofa covered by a white sheet, handed it to him and went into the kitchen. He flipped through her photographs and found that almost all of them were nude. Some of her, mostly of others.
"So, who are these people?" he asked.
"Just a sec...." she shouted back from the kitchen.
"I see a lot of bodies here."
"Well, that first one against the rocks by the sea, she was in a class of mine, a really good friend. We started to be really good friends when she decided she didnt like boys anymore. We did an awful lot together, but I havent seen her in months. I think shes on the other side of town still. Would you like some coffee?"
Vic continued to flip through the photographs as she came back into the front room, put a tape into her stereo and ducked back into the kitchen.
Vics eyes fell to a photograph of a severely beaten woman whose bruises had been focused on.
"Jesus Christ," he muttered.
"Yeah, uh, some of those were used in court."
He flipped the pages again and found a photograph of Estrelica from another time and place in the back yard of a manor house overgrown with foliage somewhere past dusk, as if a huge party was just beginning to shift gears into the evening. She balanced her nude body on a stone lion with one foot, her other foot cupping her knee, as if preparing for a jig of some sort. One hand was delicately referring to the moon which she held in her hand, while her other hand was lightly tickling her pubic hair as her gaze fell on someone out of the picture whom she tried conveying the message that, yes, at this moment, she may be unclothed, but not for whomever might be watching. Vic flipped the portfolio shut, put it back where she had found it, tiptoed into the kitchen and ever so quietly put his left hand around her eyes. She turned on a dime and gave him a swift kick in the groin as she hollered at him.
"Dont EVER do that again."
Vic, once again, was spared, as her knee caught the inside of his thigh, but he doubled over in reflex anyway.
"Look, Im really sorry but I was raped a few years ago and some things just dont go away, you know? Its not you, its just...there are some things that guys just dont realize we have to prepare ourselves for."
"Its okay. I mean, I understand. But, Christ, first I get shot at and then I almost lose my family jewels...."
"Im sorry, I really am."
He stepped back a couple of feet and sat in one of the metal folding chairs by the kitchen table.
"Do you like lattes?" she asked.
"Yeah, I do."
"Good, cuz thats what youre getting." She said setting down a mug each in front of them as she sat down on the other side of the table.
"So, what did you think?" she asked.
"About your little tai kwan do exercise?"
"No. Look, Im really sorry about that, okay? I mean about my photographs."
"Uh, I wasnt really thinking. I think I was just witnessing."
"A world I suspected, but didnt expect."
They both took sips of their lattes. Estrelica set down her mug and held out her hand, propping it up with her elbow.
"Whats that?" Vic asked.
"What do you think it is?"
"Well, where I come from, that could mean any number of things."
"Such as wheres the money for that last round, or try and read my palm or--"
"What do you think it is?"
"I think it means something I might not be prepared for."
"Prepared for what?"
"Well...Im a very fragile boy. One of those boys you read about whos always been looking for one of those girls you always read about."
"What is all this reading about?" she asked.
"Aah, you know. That stuff where its a random summer night, just barely out of spring, on or about the first day of June, and just at the point when youve given up, suddenly youre in shock. And the shock is the realization that youve recognized someone you thought youd never see, and it scares you to death, like when youre walking by a farm at dusk whistling to yourself, when suddenly out of the corner of your eye something moves and your gut clenches only to see a peacock fan out its tail and begin to strut in a figure eight. And you wonder if you hadnt been there if it would have spread its wings anyway, and you walk away whistling your tune, but every few feet you buckle over with laughter and look up at the sky and holler "You bastard!"
"Bastard?" she asked.
"Yeah. Bastard. Just another trick. Just another magicians trick."
"And what if the peacock hops the fence and follows you?"
"Well, I guess you give it a name."
"What name would you give it?"
"Would you spar with it?"
"Only if I knew how frightenable it got. and if it didnt frighten Id probably give it some names and numbers of other peacocks Id seen that werent frightenable."
"Frightenable." she repeated.
Vic changed the subject.
"You know what I really want to get? A really old gray top hat."
"Would you like one?" she smiled.
"Do you have one?"
"It was my grandfathers, but hes been dead ages. But you have to be very economical with it, because its so old that the number of pops it has left is dwindling. I cant say how many pops it has left, but I think they should be saved."
Vic beamed. "Can I see it? Can I touch it? Can I put it on and look like George Gielgood?"
"Well, you can try." she said as she got up to go and find it.
"JOHN Gielgood." Vic corrected himself. Estrelica nodded her head and congratulated him. "Very good."
Estrelica & Vic, Chapter Seven, Part C